If you’ve been working from home for the past week, as many Americans are currently doing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
, no doubt you’ve already done a bit of spring cleaning around your house. Maybe you’ve finally gotten to that long neglected junk drawer, that hallway game closet you try not to open or, worse yet, the guest bedroom that’s really a catchall for miscellaneous items and extra clothes… Don’t worry. There’s no judgment here. After all, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo”
is one of the most popular shows on Netflix. Our lives and the spaces where we live them are real and as such they’re also messy and tend to collect stuff. It’s perfectly natural—and necessary—to take a periodic inventory of these spaces and clear a few things out. As tidying expert Marie Kondo puts it in her best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
, “When your room is clean and uncluttered you have no choice but to examine your inner state.” We have to agree! But the only thing we might add is that you don’t have to wait for your room to already be clean and uncluttered in order to take stock of your emotional health. Taking a spiritual inventory of your inner state
is something you can do whether your physical world is in order or not. In fact, we might even suggest you do it first!
Enter meditation. Meditation is a mental exercise of focus and relaxation that helps to root the mind in the present, thereby breaking unhelpful patterns of thought and behavior and generally relieving the physical and emotional symptoms of stress and anxiety. In the same way that your space can become cluttered over many days of use, so too can your mind. For our purpose, we’ll refer to this as “mental clutter”
and it includes everything from recurring cycles of worry, old lies from our past (even things that once were true) and a subtle yet powerful belief deep down inside that we are not really worthy of love and respect. It’s so important to clear away this “mental clutter,” to let go of the burdens of our past because, by not doing so, we prevent ourselves not only from being able to visualize our future, but being able to move into it as well, unhindered, with reasonable optimism and self-assurance. As Krista Strayer at Flourish Yoga
puts it, “Releasing the clutter of the past helps us clearly see the future and gives us space to grow and flourish. Just like raking away the old leaves gives space for a new season of beauty to shine.”
Tandem to your meditation practice, there are also a few behaviors you can start (or change) today that will help you achieve a clearer mind today:
1. Journaling or other forms of expressive writing.
If something’s bugging you… Write it down! No, not on your Facebook page or as a sub-tweet to your best frenemy. Your journal is your trusted secret keeper for all your nagging thoughts and worries. Writing is a natural way to honor the emotions you experience by validating them and giving them a place to shine—Where they can exist without judgment. Writing out our emotions can help us be honest about what we are actually thinking and feeling in any given moment, but it’s not just a sounding board. A good journal entry can also be a great place for coming up with solutions to your problems as well!
A good journal is also a great place to write out mantras for peace of mind. “Sri Rama Jayam” is one of our personal favorites for promoting confidence and instilling peace. The phrase literally translates to “Praise Lord Rama” and is a traditional Hindu mantra for liberation and self-fulfillment.
2. Let Go… Of Gossip.
Ordinarily we think of gossip as being specifically words or stories we say about another person that are untrue. In reality, gossip is any time we speak about or reference another person in a way that makes our own character, our own habits, our own clothes—you name it—appear superior by comparison. Herein is where we find the true lie of gossip. “I am better than them” is a destructive assertion that hurts everyone involved. Just stop it altogether and see how much better you feel.
On top of that, reliving or ruminating over past hurts is an inefficient way to heal and process pain. When we hurt or feel hurt by another person, what we are experiencing is a divide in relational connection and unity. It can literally hurt us on a physical level. Who can repair that damage by sharing it with another? No one! For wounds that run deep, we strongly urge you to process with a professional, not your coworker.
3. Engage with your creative side.
When we allow ourselves to become fully immersed in an activity, we practice mindfulness! Worries, doubts and fears will all fall away. Many people tend to focus on creativity as a sort of destination. You may hear one person refer to herself as “not creative” or another say, “I’m going to go be creative now.” But creativity is not a switch you can turn on or off. Rather, creativity is merely a side effect of when we allow ourselves to express our imagination without judgment. Creativity need not arrive at anything marketable or Pinterest worthy. In fact, it need not arrive at anything at all. And you don’t need a pack of Crayolas to “be” it. You are creative when you think of jokes to tell your kids on a nature hike. You are creative when you masterfully combine the remaining contents of your fridge into some semblance of a dinner. You are also creative when you knit, sew, sing, paint and even bedazzle, if you’re into that. There are endlessly joyful ways to be creative.
When you’re ready, we also invite you to participate in this 5 minute guided meditation by YouTube’s Christina Joy
: “Spring Cleaning Meditation”
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